Day 08 – (Kirinda to Matara) Part 1

Today I cycle alone – through the down South of Sri Lanka. It’s the Sinhala and Tamil New Year’s Eve – people are celebrating the Old Year. Shops are closed and everyone is enjoying the holidays, except me. I decided to go late because I was advised by the owner of the Kirinda Beach Resort (Mr. Jude) that I will not be able to find a place for lunch so it was best if I can take something from there along with my breakfast.

The place where I stayed last night – Kirinda Beach Resort

My uncle has been very instrumental in rehabilitating this place after it was devastated by the Tsunami in 2006. There was no electricity, clean water – just rubble. Now when I see this resort it has brought a sense of purpose for these people in the village. And of course Mr. Jerome wouldn’t mind entertaining his friend’s favourite nephew on his cycle tour.

I set off from Kirinda at 9am and started my journey slow. Villages were filled with music and laughter because people were at home for the holidays. I had to go through Bundala to reach Hambantota. While I was going through the wildlife park I stopped on the side of the road to check my navigation, because it was a long ride and there were no shops and people to check if I made a mistake. From far, I could hear the trees twisting to the wind and suddenly an elephant appeared from one side and crossed over to the other.

Luckily it was far away and I was praying it won’t come towards me because I wasn’t too sure how to react to a charging elephant.

 

This part of the country is dominated by an invasive plant called “Katu Andara”. They have thorns and their branches reach out to the road. When I was on the main road I encountered one of these thorns and ended up with a puncture. I had to stop by at a swamp to find shade and also a place to check where air is leaking from the tyre tube. The heat was not at all helping and I can’t imagine how I told myself to continue with this. I was cycling through the huge flyovers in Hambantota – places where no mortal would ever go on a cycle at this time of the day. It was so frustrating because I was doing this on my own and my bike was giving trouble.

Fixing the flat tyre near a swamp – under the shade.

I entered Ambalantota – the A2 road which eventually lead me home. No more flyovers, just a narrow road where all the buses and cars are at war trying to overtake each other. It was lunch time so I decided to stop by a Thambili hut and have a drink while having my meal. Is it just me or are there so many hills on this road? From far, I can see dark clouds rolling in. It can’t rain here, these are one of driest parts in the country.

Passing throught the MRCC – Magampura Ruhuna Convention Centre

I have never been so wrong. It rained, and every hill I climbed seemed so far away. Sometimes I couldn’t see far because it rained so heavily. I stopped by an old bus stand just to make sure everything was waterproof. I remember I told my campus friend Paramee that I’ll be seeing him over at Matara. Now I’m wondering whether I will even make it that far. It’s frustrating when you have to take this journey alone. I had no way of keeping myself warm because I was soaking wet. It took me a good 10 to 15 minutes of cycling to get my body heated up again, but until then it was torture.

What a change this has been. A few hours ago I was burning on the asphalt of the highways in Hambantota. And now I’m cold and miserable. I kept a mantra in my mind, to help me get through this journey.

IT’S THE TOUGHEST FIRE THAT MAKES THE FINEST STEEL

 

Day 08 – (Kirinda to Matara) Part 2
Pradeep’s Story